MP Dennis Jensen on the ‘stolen generations’ and why he abstained from the vote

Dennis Jensen was one of the Liberal MPs who abstained from the vote yesterday on Kevin Rudd’s sorry. Read on for his explanation. In it, he confronts Rudd with the truths of the “stolen generation” – and of the plight even today of Aboriginal children like them.

You might think Rudd must know all this already, but Jensen points out that this new saviour of the Aboriginal people never before this day showed great interest in them:

He was the mandarin (appropriate term there, I think), who was in charge of the bureaucracy during the term of the Goss Labor government. What policies came out of that period to reduce the plight of the Aboriginal people?

Well, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he has seen the light subsequent to becoming the Member for Griffith and coming to this place. So, I searched Parlinfo, for Rudd’s speeches in Hansard.

For the search term “aboriginal” I got 2 hits – one about a local primary school and the other his speech in response to Howard’s aboriginal initiative last year, in which he supports Howard.

For “aboriginals” – 0 hits. For “ATSIC” – 0 hits. For “native welfare” – 0 hits.

So much for his genuine concern on the plight of the Aboriginal people of Australia.

But read it all:
I have profound difficulties with the idea of an apology to the so-called stolen generation (or generations, as per the PM).

Before I start, I would like to voice my dismay at the way in which the PM has attempted to politicise this issue – it has all the hallmarks of a stunt, a stunt played out at the expense of all Australians of good will.

Labor has been calling for an apology for months, and the Labor government has been in power for over 2 months, and yet they could only release the wording of this much vaunted apology to the Opposition and the Australian people at 5.43pm on the evening prior to the apology.

Is it that, despite their assertions, they really don’t care that much, and only thought of it at the last minute?

Or is it that they are playing this as wedge politics?

Or is it that they have had legal advice that this will make the Commonwealth liable for compensation, and they did not want that to be made clear to either the opposition or the Australian people?

Indeed, if they were hoping for bipartisan support, why did they not give the opposition access to the legal advice?

This clearly indicates that, on the part of the Labor government, there was no good will associated with this issue.
One of the first things to note is that the majority of my constituents do not support the apology; perhaps for reasons that the government is not prepared to acknowledge or consider, but it is a fact that my constituents reflect the majority view that at this time, it is not the right thing to do.

As a representative of my electorate, it is obviously critical that I represent their views.

I note that in a survey carried out by a Channel 7 news poll in Perth with the question “Do you agree with the government apology?” more than 13 000 responded, and 90% voted that they did not support the apology.

There are numerous reasons that I have decided not to support the apology.
It is very important that I put these views forward, so that I am not misrepresented.

First, to the specifics of precisely who the apology is being made to.

Many in the community seem to believe that the apology is to Aboriginals in general, or to be made for invading Australia in the first place.

The fact is, the apology is made to Aboriginals who are of the so-called “stolen generation”.

The stolen generation relates to people of Aboriginal descent who were removed from their parents based on their Aboriginality.

In the case of the Commonwealth government, responsibility for these policies only apply to the territories.

With regards the NT, there was a court case, Cubillo vs the Commonwealth, that examined these issues in great detail.

Prof Robert Manne of La Trobe Uni, a great believer in the “stolen generation” issue, stated prior to the trial that it was a very important test case, as it would have the rigorous analysis that was generally absent.

I do not know his position subsequent to the trial.

The result of the trial of Cubillo vs the Commonwealth was that, in the case specifically regarding the NT, there never was a policy of removing Aboriginal children for race reasons.

This result was upheld on appeal.

Justice O’Loughlin found no policy of systematic forced removal; where forced removal occurred the government was motivated ‘by the twin forces of a sense of responsibility for the care of children and concern for their welfare as potentially unwelcome members of the Aboriginal community.’

In relation to the breeding-out allegations O’Loughlin said, “There is much that might be said about the preservation of such an allegation in the light of the total absence of evidence to support it”

So, it would appear that, according to the courts, in terms of a “stolen generation” relating to the NT, there never was such a stolen generation.

There certainly were children removed, but for reasons other than race.

As such, with the specifics of who the apology is addressed to, there actually is not an apology to be made by the Federal government.

What is tragic is that the issue of an apology is being made out to be this huge step in the reconciliation process, one that will make a huge difference on its own.

The problem with this argument is that one merely has to look at what has happened in my state of WA to see just how meaningless the apology is.

In WA, of course, the state government was responsible for policy.

Although an apology was delivered by the state parliament in 2001, we have the situation that aboriginal life expectancy in the state has reduced since that time.

This is a travesty, and demonstrates that mere rhetoric, for which Labor is renowned, is no substitute for policy designed to actually address the problem.

Now, there is something very interesting with the PM’s record on this.

He was the mandarin (appropriate term there, I think), who was in charge of the bureaucracy during the term of the Goss Labor government.

What policies came out of that period to reduce the plight of the Aboriginal people?

Well, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he has seen the light subsequent to becoming the Member for Griffith and coming to this place.

So, I searched Parlinfo, for Rudd’s speeches in Hansard.

For the search term “aboriginal” I got 2 hits – one about a local primary school and the other his speech in response to Howard’s aboriginal initiative last year, in which he supports Howard.

For “aboriginals” – 0 hits. For “ATSIC” – 0 hits. For “native welfare” – 0 hits.

So much for his genuine concern on the plight of the Aboriginal people of Australia.

It would seem that in all his time in this place, it is only the past few months that he has discovered the plight of the Aboriginal people.

In my perception, we have got our priorities wrong. Samuel Johnson said “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!”

Unfortunately, this is the case here.

For the last 40-odd years, we have done all of the wrong things for all the wrong reasons.

We have given generously financially, with scant regard to the effect of “sit down money” on the communities where there is no responsibility or accountability for the welfare.

This is completely degrading, and I can only imagine at the loss of self esteem this engenders.

Is this doing the right thing?

I don’t think so!

Reverse racism is still racism, and there is something extremely paternalistic in handing out money in situations where other Australians would not qualify.

What is that saying to the Aboriginal community?

That they are not up to being able to be responsible for themselves, so the government will “look after them’ as if they were children.

How can we continue supporting communities that are inherently non-viable?

Communities of around twenty or so people cannot be economically viable and in supporting these unviable communities, we condemn the inhabitants of these communities to a life of welfare dependency.

This can never be acceptable.

The issue of native title and permits is another issue of concern.

Thirty years ago, the world rightly condemned the South African Apartheid regime for their homelands policy.

The current situation with native title and permits is very similar to that South African situation, albeit that the aim has been very different.

This makes one think of Samuel Johnson again.

Something that worries me is that, at present, you have social workers who are loathe to remove Aboriginal children who are neglected or abused because they are concerned with potential repercussions that might apply with removing these children.

In fact, this extends further in Aboriginal communities.

Dr Stephanie Jarrett, visiting research fellow who did her PhD Thesis on the pathology of violence inside one Aboriginal community stated “Lawyers use cultural rights to reduce penalties for domestic violence…Where does this leave Aboriginal women? Domestic violence is the major source of Australia’s internal refugees.”

Ernie Bridge, the first Aboriginal minister in the WA parliament said in the Sunday Times of 18 November 2007

“The wrong people in the wrong places have been making decisions for the indigenous, who haven’t been put in a position to make changes to issues that are important to them.” “In health terms, the situation for Aboriginals has actually gone backwards since the referendum.”

I apologise for the awful truths which are often buried under mountains of reports, excuses and bureaucratic activity.

The truths such as Paul Sheehan quoted in his book ‘The Electronic Whorehouse’: “Dr Sandra Thompson of the Western Australian Dept of Heath says that Aboriginal children in the state between the ages of 10 and 14 have a rate of gonorrhoea that is 186 times the rate for non-Aboriginal children… [In WA] a total of 3861 [children] were under care and protection orders, the state’s response to abuse or chronic neglect, at a rate of 20.3 per 1000 children, compared with just 3.4 per 1000 among non-Indigenous children.”

How can a mere apology even scratch the surface of such appalling figures?

The Australian Medical Association reported on alarming rates of STD infection in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory:

In the six months to June this year, 41 children aged under 10 presented with gonorrhoea, 41 with chlamydia, five with syphilis and 40 with trichomoniasis.
Among them, one child under four was diagnosed with gonorrhoea and another in the same age bracket with chlamydia.
Five children aged between five and nine were found to be suffering from sexually transmitted diseases.
The figures, from the NT health department’s sexual health and blood-borne viruses unit, also showed a disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people with STDs.
More than 800 cases of gonorrhoea were reported in indigenous populations, while just 53 cases were noted in non-indigenous groups.
The Aboriginal population accounted for 66 per cent of all chlamydia cases and 92 per cent of syphilis cases within the six-month period.

It begs the question- if this were happening to white children, what would society expect from the law in dealing with the perpetrators?

Once again, how woefully inadequate is the word sorry.
Consider in your hearts the truly indescribable suffering of a young Aurukun girl, 10 years old, who was raped by a group of juveniles.

The attack left her with gonorrhoea.
As Andrew Bolt wrote, “According to the prosecutor, it was just one of those “things (that) happen in a small community”, and, besides, “although (the girl) was very young, she knew what was going on”.
‘Indeed she did. She’d already been raped at seven, and it shows the depravity of Aboriginal towns such as Aurukun that a girl so young “knew what was going on” when raped. ‘
‘So why this monstrous leniency for the pack rape of an Aboriginal girl? ‘
‘Because, said the judge in sentencing the juvenile rapists, “I accept that the girl . . . probably agreed to have sex with all of you”.
And what makes this story even more indefensible is that after the first attack she was moved to safety, to a family in Cairns, and yet was forced to return to Aurukun because a social worker believed it was defensible on the grounds of her “cultural, emotional and spiritual identity.”

That is the sort of warped logic which has resulted in so much of the trauma and probably irreparable damage done to so many children.

How many members here have daughters?

How many of your daughters would have any concept of rape, not just once but twice?

And yet that is what is occurring, and for that we should be truly sorry.

So what must be done in order to give these communities a future, and the young people hope?

Stop trying to attain the moral high ground by simply throwing more and more money into programs that have palpably and comprehensively failed.

Take the success stories and start reproducing them around the country, beginning with actions which will deliver the most basic need for all these people – a safe place to live – then the other basics of life – a healthy environment, housing and a good education.

Late last year, the WA State Government tried its utmost to prevent the release of a report into the dysfunctional Department of Indigenous Affairs.

For whatever reason – lack of resources, policy based on ideology instead of sensitive practicality – this Department failed the very people it was meant to serve.

In ‘The West Australian’ of 9 November 2007 “Aboriginal leader Sandy Davies, chairman of the Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service claimed the reason Mr Carpenter was refusing to release the reports publicly was because it would be embarrassing for him.”

How real or sincere was the apology from that government, given this evidence of their actions?

Despite the PM talking about “righting the wrongs of the past”, he appears to be ignorant of the fact that it impossible to right the wrongs of the past – it is only possible to improve the future and learn from mistakes.

Now I come to something that I am very sorry about.

I am sorry that this parliament has lost a true champion for the Aboriginal people.

Mal Brough was the previous Minister for Indigneous Affairs and someone determined to really make a difference for Aboriginal people.

He did not make a fuss about his own Aboriginal heritage but set about to try to break the cycle of poverty, despair, abuse and hopelessness.

I sincerely hope that the new minister is as committed and fearless as Mal Brough was to ensure that the conditions many Aboriginal communities find themselves in today are eliminated and consigned to the dustbin of history.

In conclusion, I would like to apologise to the Aboriginal people that we have not, over the last 40 years, initiated policies that addressed the root causes of your people’s problems.

I apologise for the terrible situation some of your children find themselves in, as we have not had the courage, until the NT intervention, to systematically tackle the problem.

I am sorry that we have allowed you to live in non viable communities, pretending that by giving you welfare we were solving the problem.

I am sorry that, despite apologies given by the states that were supposed to start actions that would genuinely help the Aboriginal problems, Aboriginal life expectancy and health outcomes are not improving.

I worry that many in Australia will now think that the job is done, whereas the job has not even started.

My hope for the future is to see Aboriginal society fully participating in Australian society, sharing with all Australians and reaping the benefits of cooperation and participation while retaining their own very distinct culture and heritage, as with so many other communities within Australia.

I will push for policies that are not paternalistic and demeaning, but instead are central to those who are struggling to help themselves.

I will fight to ensure that children live in conditions of safety, where they can dream and aspire to whatever they desire.

I want an Aboriginal society that sees limitless horizons, not the short sighted view of squalid communities which crush the human spirit.

That is what I will fight for, that is my pledge.

* * *

This, slightly edited for length, is the speech Jensen delivered in Parliament today, via Andrew Bolt.

Dr Dennis Jensen is the Liberal federal member for Tangney in Western Australia. His Parliamentary home page is here, and his personal home page is here. His email address is and his other contact details are on his web site.

I would urge you to please, read his speech above, and if you support Dr. Jensen’s stand, write a letter, make a phone call or send an email. He, like Dr. Nelson, Mr. Brough and others who have been seen to refuse to kowtow to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Big Sorry Circus, has been copping a pasting in the MSM.

It’s not enough for us to complain to each other about this issue; it’s time to let men of principle and integrity such as Dr. Jensen know that they have our support.

Posted in Temp. 18 Comments »

18 Responses to “MP Dennis Jensen on the ‘stolen generations’ and why he abstained from the vote”

  1. saltydog Says:

    People like Rudd get away with a great deal because they supposedly have “good intentions.” When are we going to question the moral premises that judge these intentions as good. How many dead? How many little girls who have been gang-raped twice by the age of 10? How many lost and wasted lives? What makes their intentions good when the consequences are utterly ignored?

    I also question their intentions, whether or not they are considered “good.” When the evidence is so blatant that they cannot meet their intentions, but will attain the opposite, isn’t it time to question their intentions as well?

    Or do they think, like Hume, that we cannot know that the same action will cause the same effect? Perhaps they hope that their intentions can be made real, regardless of what they do. No wonder they want to rule us; terrified of nature, they seek power over people — then they can force us to make the reality they want, without the consequences being inconveniently discussed in the press or anywhere else.

    (This last is for those who have any doubt about the “good intentions” of those who advocate PC speech codes, hate-speech legislation and other attacks on free speech. They really are getting very bold in their calls to put a muzzle on people who say things they don’t like.)

  2. saltydog Says:

    By the way, Spot, thank you for bringing this to the site. It is important that the few voices of reason among us are given as wide an audience as possible.

  3. spot_the_dog Says:

    Thanks for that, Salty. And thanks especially for your first comment – I always look forward to hearing what you have to say.

    I want as many people as possible (especially Australians!) to read Dr Jensen’s speech – it is such a contrast to the platitudes the Left are throwing out, and I know that he will get almost no coverage in the MSM. If you could see how the crowds here turn on anyone who dares to dissent with Chairman Kev and the Black Armband Brigade, you’d understand what a brave man he is for speaking the truth as he does. Of course, with Internet coverage, I guess you already have seen some of the reactions to people who dissent — such as the shouted obscenities and booing of Brendan Nelson.

    I liked the last part of your first comment; made me think of CS Lewis’s warning:

    Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. … those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
    –C.S. Lewis

  4. SandiM Says:

    Thanks, spot. The comments to that post on AB’s blog are heartening. Very few dissenters – the usual suspects.

    I noted over there on one of the comment threads someone saying that we need to become activists in the face of this Kruddy government. They are already making a farce of long-standing principles – waiting till the last possible minute before handing over the apology to the Opposition, refusing to release the legal advice, drastically limiting question time – and this is only week 1. I’m beginning to think that we need to go beyond preaching to the converted amongst ourselves. Anyone have any ideas on how we can get more “active”.

    Maybe we could begin by emailing support to Dennis Jensen and other good guys. I sent him an email earlier today congratulating him on his stand. We could also email bad guys if, that is, we can stomach their inevitable we-know-best replies.

  5. saltydog Says:

    SandiM, I appreciate the impulse. I think that the best action is to email things like this speech to everyone you know. So many among those who abhor actions like this “Sorry” mess (pun intended) do not really understand the history–that is, the truth. Making sure that such people have the ammunition to confront the pretenders is most important. I’m sure that most of us have had the experience of shutting down one of their parrots with nothing but a few facts. You won’t change a parrot’s mind, but you may make someone watching think. Always remember that man has a rational faculty and no matter how indoctrinated, there will always be those who haven’t given their souls over to those who goose-step behind the latest bandwagon.

  6. spot_the_dog Says:

    UPDATE: Here’s how WA celebrated the-day-after-Sorry-Day. We found two Aboriginal men from the Kimberley, brothers, guilty of multiple charges of raping multiple little children, and who know, they may even spend as much as 18 months in jail this time. Maybe.
    Brothers jailed for sex offences against young girls

    Two brothers have been jailed for multiple sexual assaults against young girls in a remote community in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.

    Matthew Charles Waina, 42, and his brother Bruno Waina, 34, had pleaded guilty to the charges and were sentenced in the West Australian District Court today.

    Matthew Waina was charged with four counts of indecently dealing with a child and seven counts of sexually penetrating a child.

    The Perth Magistrates Court was told in July last year he had lured two girls aged 11 and 14 to his bedroom with the promise of cigarettes, showed them a pornographic DVD and then had sex with them.

    Today he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years prison.

    Bruno Waina was sentenced to four-and-a-half years prison for 12 counts of sexually penetrating a child under 13, five of indecently dealing with a child under 13, and two counts of showing offensive material to a child.

    Both men were made eligible for parole and could be freed after serving half their sentences.
    At least, unlike so many others of their kind (Aboriginal paedophiles – I’ll call them what they are), they’re actually getting more than a slap on the wrist. But still, it shows how much less we value little black children. If two white men from Cottesloe or Nedlands were found guilty of the types and numbers of child sex offenses as these men, on little white children, I daresay they’d be dealt with a little more harshly.

  7. SwinishCapitalist Says:

    I’ve posted a link to this in one of the relevant forums at RedBubble. It’s getting some comment.

  8. saltydog Says:

    It seems the good intentions of some have spawned an anti-social pathology among the Nobel Savages. It’s catching, too, considering that this degeneracy commanded light sentences. I won’t brag, however, because our own laws are not nearly as harsh as they ought to be (hence the growth of this particular debauchery).

  9. saltydog Says:

    Just one more thing before I try to get some sleep:

    The good Dr. abstained from voting. Right? What were his choices? Could he have voted against the thing?

    Please understand, I’m not trying to find something with which to cast aspersions. I’m just curious. What he’s said is above reproach.

  10. spot_the_dog Says:

    #7, Thanks for that, SC. Speaking of child sex assaults, we’re well into the second generation of that already. There was the case back in Sept/Oct last year, where eight 6 & 7 year olds had been sexually penetrated by 11 to 15 year olds, and another in Nov/Dec where five young boys were charged with sexually assaulting three even younger boys. Both happened in Kalumburu.

    It’s becoming “normalised behaviour,” as much as it sickens me to say that. I know that charges in the second case were dropped; they probably were in the first case as well. And those are just ones that I’ve heard of – who knows how many more there are.

    When an Inspector with the WA Sex Crimes division went up there last December, he reported that “the process had been painstaking because about 180 children lived in Kalumburu but nearly two-thirds did not have parents there.” Sue Gordon also made the same observation, that “so many adults have just left their children behind. The adults have gone and left their children behind, just blown through.”

    Unfortunately, I don’t have links for those – just hard-copy papers and memory. You could try googling to see if you could find some links, or I’ll have a go later tonight or tomorrow. Sorry if I seem obsessed by this; it just makes me so angry and frustrated and breaks my heart at the same time. And I have no idea how to help except to write letters and blogs and get the information out there so that the people who are in a position to help cannot avoid it any longer.

  11. spot_the_dog Says:

    #9, I’m not sure – hopefully someone smarter than me will jump in and answer. If the Libs’ position was to support it, what would the procedure have been for him to vote against it, given that I don’t think it was a conscience vote? Anyone?

  12. Ash Says:

    If he voted against it outright, he’d be completely flogged by the media for not being sorry.

    I think it was saving political face while at the same time not supporting the message.

  13. SwinishCapitalist Says:

    I must say this whole week has been most educational. Here, I’ve learnt things about the current state of Aboriginal affairs that rather made my hair stand on end. Over at RB I watched people so full of regret and eagerness to be sorry turn feral as soon as dissent appeared. One Sorry person invited a skeptic to ‘Enjoy your Abo bash’. Nothing beats a well-reasoned argument…
    Can’t find it now, but one comment actually made me laugh. The lady concerned mentioned a town where there’s a rather large rock in a lake. The local indigines have created a myth about this rock, and I do mean ‘created’ because the mother of the commenter’s partner was there the day that ‘white men and their machines put that rock in the water’.

  14. saltydog Says:

    We’ve ennobled savages, as opposed to treating them as individuals, and then are surprised when they act like savages. So much for identity politics. It is disheartening to see so much harm done and so many lives in waste and ruin.

    Nothing seems to deter some people from their noble ideal, though. I’ve been called out for calling such people evil, but I still do it. You have to be willfully blind not to see the consequences. Those who continue to advocate for what are clearly evil consequences are evil, and damn their good intentions.

    Spot and others, thanks for answering the question about the vote. I know that these things are done for political reasons. It is a sad commentary that honesty must sneak in through the back door.

  15. Richard Ryan Says:

    YES, I am a deranged mom’s-basement troll!

    [edited by admin]

    • Carpe Jugulum Says:

      On the piss again i see richard.

      How many times do you have to be told………….. don’t “have sex with a howler monkey” and then post………….. (how odd, it originally came out as “get drunk”)

    • bingbing Says:

      Another email addy for the spam list? I think one blog’s enough for him, and it ain’t this one.

  16. Mary A. Says:

    Why hadn’t I ever seen this before, this is EXCELLENT.

    It has been long enough now, are the facts in, did the Big Sorry actually make anyone’s life BETTER?

    That was a shameless piece of symbolism by the lefty’s, it made them feel better, but nothing has changed, infact now they are putting aboriginal stockmen out of jobs, with the War On Graziers And Cattlemen, putting them all back onto sitdown money, where I guess the Lefty’s like to keep them !!

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